To explain how I ended up sitting next to Tinkerbell, it is useful to expand on the context of the Community Centre. Due to funding cuts by successive governments, the Community Centre is now entirely run by volunteers from the Community Volunteer Service (CVS), and the Centre covers the majority of its operating costs via room hire (to, for instance, the Knitting Group, the Martial Arts Club, etc.) In the partnership with CVS, The Institution agreed to rent a space from the Community Centre, thereby contributing funds while also providing me a place to work. It seemed, on the surface, like a good match. The Community Centre would get money, I would get a place to work and access to the ‘community’.
On arrival to the Community Centre in January 2016, they welcomed me in, and made me tea and we introduced ourselves. After a couple hours of good chat, I explained that I should get to work, and wondered where I could get settled. They pointed at a small side-room, telling me that it was needed in 2 hours because the Dance Group were coming, but I could move to the room across the hall way for 30 minutes, as it was free, and then into the side office for 3 hours, and then the gym for another 2 hours after that, etc. I asked if there was any permanent space from which to work and they explained there wasn’t. When asked about access to the building, I was told I could not have a key, as only managers could have keys, and so I could enter the building only when a manager was on site, which did not include weekends, evenings, or several mornings of the week. Unlike photography, or sculpture, or painting, participatory practices do not have specific, formatted ways of working, and I am used to working in odd contexts. I reasoned that limitations are often opportunities to think differently, and so I set about trying to fit into this schedule.